Client Spotlight: How FrieslandCampina China is Finding Growth and Opportunity Post COVID-19

Published: May 2021


Spotlight, our regular Q&A with clients and colleagues, highlights leading viewpoints on trending topics in the world of human resources.

Stephen Cui
Global Partner and Head of China Talent,
Human Capital Solutions

Richard Xu
Vice President, Human Resources, FrieslandCampina China


How FrieslandCampina China is Finding Growth and Opportunity Post COVID-19

With COVID-19 recovery in China well underway, many companies are looking at actively hiring new talent with future-leading skills to fuel business growth. However, when recruiting skill-specific talent for the future, firms must also consider evolving expectations and new workforce demands.

To discuss this further, Stephen Cui, Global Partner and Head of China Talent Solution of Human Capital Solutions at Aon, interviewed Richard Xu, Vice President of Human Resource Development of FrieslandCampina China, one of the world’s largest dairy companies, to discuss how the firm has remained resilient during times of uncertainty and his outlook for the workforce of the future.

I’d like to congratulate the FrieslandCampina China team for your exceptional revenue growth of 20% in such a challenging year. What was the key factor in driving that growth?

I’d have to say agility. FrieslandCampina is a reputable brand for Chinese consumers. We have had very stable business performance over the past few years. Because of this, brand awareness increased greatly in 2020, topping the main e-commerce platforms in terms of sales volume. So, on one hand, the demand is there. However, the most significant action we took was to implement a restructure across the whole organization, including almost all business lines and functional departments. In the HR department, we adopted a decentralized strategy by keeping the center of excellence (COE) teams in our headquarter location, while all HR business partners stepped down to other regions, spanning more than 100 cities. This allowed employees in this department to foster a closer relationship with the business and work in a more responsive and efficient way. We also streamlined and optimized HR functions in compensation and benefits, learning and development.

Fast-moving consumer goods is a highly competitive industry. What are some of the key talent challenges you are facing?

Digital transformation brings with it both opportunities and challenges. The sales volume on November 11 alone (an e-commerce festival known as Double Eleventh Day in China) was equal to two to three months’ revenue from offline channels. No brand can afford to lose online or fall behind on its digital strategy. Nowadays, technology serves as the key growth engine; however, a shortage of digital talent to fill this rising demand is a common problem in the market. Determining how to attract and retain digital talent, while also developing the right skills from an internal perspective, requires large business investments.

What differentiates the demands of a younger workforce? What are you focusing on to attract candidates from this generation?

It is a very different group of workers. They tend to pursue more flexibility and opportunities for work-life balance. The younger generation admires entrepreneurship. They are typically more willing to invest in new ideas and concepts for the firm or themselves. In order to remain competitive, we are focused on shifting our business strategies and structures to support this new way of work and future career paths for our people.

As a multinational corporation, how would you describe your local HR strategy compared to that of your global strategy?

I’d like to coin the word “Glocalize” to describe the difference. It is neither a total follow nor a pure disruption. We have no intention of surprising the global team with completely different practices that are used in China; however, some adjustments are necessary to ensure we are supporting local market needs that will help drive sustainable growth.

To learn more about how firms are adapting for the future of work in China and around the world, please write to

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